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Children to Challenge World Leaders in Johannesburg

Victoria, British Columbia/Nairobi May 2002 - Almost 400 children adopted and presented the key challenges that will be delivered to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg later this year. The challenges are direct and focused demands for environmental action by governments of the world. Two child delegates from the conference, Analiz Vergara from Quito, Ecuador and Justin Friesen from Nova Scotia, Canada were elected by their conference peers to personally deliver the challenges at WSSD.

"We want clean water and clean air for everyone," said Analiz Vergara, who is a Junior Board member for the conference. "These are basic human rights, not privileges. The challenges we have developed represent the children - the next leaders - and the hope for our future. We must make sure that governments listen to us."

Justin Friesen, also a member of the Junior Board, said, "Some of the key challenges to governments of the world include:

· Ensure that people from developing countries all have access to clean drinking water and that it is shared equally. (Water)

· Ratify the Kyoto protocol. (Climate Change)

· Forgive the debts of developing countries. (Healthy Communities, Healthy Children)

· Give tax breaks for environmentally friendly products. (Resource Conservation)"

In total, 50 challenges will be presented to world leaders at the upcoming summit in Johannesburg, August 26 to September 4, 2002. They were developed by the children in their Friendship Groups, based on the conference's daily themes of: Water; Climate Change, Healthy Communities, Healthy Children; and Resource Conservation.

"The presentation of these challenges at WSSD sends a very powerful message that children's voices must be heard," said Mr. Kakakhel, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director for UNEP. "UNEP is committed to continuing this conference series, and is already very involved in producing the 2003 ICC that will be held in New London, Connecticut, USA. Plans are also underway for the 2005 conference in Japan."

A total of 385 children and 251 adult delegates, representing 80 countries, attended the 2002 International Children's Conference on the Environment. The conference, produced together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was held at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada from May 21 to 25. Major sponsors of the conference are UNEP, the Government of Canada and Tetra Pak Canada Inc.

The 50 challenges are available on the Conference Web site:

For more information, please contact:

Alan Dolan, Communications Manager Michelle Larstone, Communications

250-478-8056; 250-883-0228 (cell) Coordinator

250-882-0493 (cell)

UNEP Information Note 2002/13